ShareThis Page

Parkway Center Mall nears end

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 9:01 p.m.
Signal Item
Kmart signs are plastered around the area, advertising reduced prices as the venerable store prepares to close for good at the Parkway Center Mall on Jan. 6. Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Signal Item
Ron Russitano, owner of Phantom of the Attic comic book store, rings out customer Justin Fanzo of Carnegie at his new location on Noblestown Road. Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Signal Item
Kmart signs are plastered around the area, advertising reduced prices as the venerable store prepares to close for good at the Parkway Center Mall on Jan. 6. Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Signal Item
Kmart signs are plastered around the area, advertising reduced prices as the venerable store prepares to close for good at the Parkway Center Mall on Jan. 6. Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Signal Item
Parkway Center Mall near Green Tree in 2012

Parkway Center Mall near Green Tree is practically desolate now. Only the second of three floors remains open.

It was there last week that Anita Okraszewski of Elliott was walking briskly through the dark hallway that is now only spotted with customers. On cold, windy days, Okraszewski uses the mall's second floor as a walking track.

“It's amazing,” said Okraszewski, who walks several miles a week, “I come here to walk on cold days because I know no one will be here. And it's warm. I can get a good workout. I can walk on the second floor because there is no one here to bug me.

“The next step is a gym membership and I am not doing that,” she said.

The 442,742-square-foot shopping center, visible from Interstate 376 and once favored by residents of Green Tree and surrounding communities, is scheduled to close shortly after the Kmart shuts down on Jan. 6. The few small businesses that do remain there, including Dalmo Optical and The Sports Deli, plan on moving out and relocating by Jan. 13.

The mall opened in the early 1980s and once was a safe haven for so many businesses; however, it began to decline in the late 1990s. Businesses such as Jo Ann Fabrics, PharMor, National Record Mart, Chi Chi's Restaurant, KayBee Toys, Radio Shack and Payless Shoe Source all are gone now.

Sophia Zhang has owned Dalmo Optical at Parkway Center for 12 years. The closing of the mall is disappointing more than anything else, she said.

“It is, because I worked hard and tried to bring people into the mall. Now, look where we are. I will relocate, but I have a long list of patients that want me to stay and want me to stay close,” Zhang said.

Zhang and her two-employee business will relocate to Greentree Road in Green Tree.

The Sports Deli has been at the mall since 2000. The store sells a variety of sports memorabilia and clothing.

Owner Michael Autieri said he will relocate, but is unsure where.

Autieri believes his core customers will follow him wherever he goes.

“Over the years, most of my customers (come into the store) with their girlfriends. Then they get married and they have kids. And their kids come here to shop when they grow up,” Autieri said.

Most people – and businesses owners – agree that the opening of other, more centralized shopping areas such as Robinson Town Center and The Pointe at Robinson triggered the downfall of Parkway Center.

Ron Russitano has owned “Phantom of the Attic” comic book store for 21 years. A native of Scott, he graduated from Chartiers Valley High School in 1983.

Russitano operated his business out of the mall for more than two decades. But rather than wait until mid-January, he decided to move to Noblestown Road across from Noble Manor Shopping Center last month.

Now, he has more than three times the space he had at Parkway Center, and is trying to figure out what to do with it all.

“It is pretty big. I have no idea how big. But I'm happy with it,” Russitano said. He does believe the sour economy led to Parkway Center's demise, as well as the expansion of Robinson Township shopping.

“The thing is, all of my core customers know I am here. I called them, emailed them. I made them aware I was leaving (the mall) months ago.”

Green Tree Manager Dave Montz does not believe the mall's closing with have a sour effect on the borough's economy. In fact, all residents seem to be concerned about, Montz said, is whether or not the adjoining Giant Eagle will stay open.

As things stand now, the Giant Eagle will not close. What will happen to the mall building once it closes is not yet known, Montz said.

“Even I am concerned about the Giant Eagle. I will admit that. I go there a couple of times a week. You can't beat the convenience of the Giant Eagle,” Montz said.

For now, Parkway Center Mall remains open. But come January, changes will have to be made, Okraszewski said.

“I know I will have to figure something out. It will be cold outside, very cold to walk outside. I will figure something out.”

Jeff Widmer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5810 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.